Skip to content Skip to footer

Review: Terrorism, Prediction, and Emerging Technologies, Joshua Stewart (13/11/23)

The CCW Emerging Threats Group convened on Monday, November 13, for a discussion on Terrorism, Prediction, and Emerging Technologies with Joshua Stewart, National Security Fellow at the Airey Neave Trust. The session explored Stewart’s RUSI paper “Linguistic Fingerprints and Ideological Fragmentation” and new counterterrorism (CT) approaches enabled by emerging technologies against the backdrop of the Hamas attacks and the shift from CT to great power competition.

Terrorism Evolution

The terrorism threat landscape is evolving. Whereas in the past, the leading threat was al-Qaeda, today, the landscape is characterised by diverse factions and ideologically disparate groups. This trend of “salad bar” ideologies, where groups amalgamate contrasting beliefs, has led to extensive fragmentation, decentralisation, and armed factionalism, posing challenges in tracking and addressing these multifaceted threats. Without clear leadership or motives, this makes it hard to track and tackle such threats. Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) are also changing the landscape; for example, social media algorithms that amplify and transfer extremist views onto vulnerable individuals.

Integrative Complexity

Integrative complexity is a measure that could be used to asses not what individuals think but how they think in order to evaluate the threat that person poses to a nation. Used for risk analysis and strategic assessments, experts have found that when political violence is brewing, communications in groups become black and white. By analysing such patterns, there is potential to mitigate surprise terrorist attacks. Whilst technology will hopefully improve, counter-measures may weaken the capabilities of such a method. Nevertheless, as technology and research expand, more patterns can be identified and interdicted.

Key Takeaways

Overall, the talk suggested nations should be cautious about being over-reliant upon specific identification methods; counter-terrorism tactics should be diverse. As a result of the challenges posed by encryption and digital sanctuaries, multi-disciplined, flexible skill sets are critical for success. Furthermore, greater information-sharing is necessary to prevent siloes that could permit attacks. In addition, to mitigate the negative potential of AI analytic methods and protect civil liberties, it is essential for robust oversight and regulation. Such measures will help prevent the future infiltration of terrorist ideas into vulnerable people.

Emerging Threats Working Group

Newsletter Signup

Contact Us

Oxford, United Kingdom

Email Us Here

Emerging Threats Working Group © 2024. All Rights Reserved.